09 Sep A changing landscape
I remember when I was looking for my first property, you waited till a Thursday then went to the local estate agents or lawyers and collected your copy of the local property paper. You sat down with a red pen that afternoon and marked off every property within your price bracket and location you wanted to see, then waited to the Sunday Open Viewings and quickly ran round all of them with the hope that one would be suitable. If you very lucky you might have managed to get an appointment to view before the Sunday.
Then if you wanted to sell you would again go down to the local estate agent, get them to “market” your property, which entailed popping your property in their window, putting up a For Sale board outside the property and getting you in the weekly property paper. Remembering to try and catch the deadline for print or you would have to wait another week. Then once the property was sold would pay them anything between 1-2% of the sale price plus not forgetting conveyancing fees on top. So on a £100,000 property sale it could be anything up to £2000 just for selling your property plus conveyancing.
This feels like a lifetime ago, however it wasn’t that long ago! But how times have changed (or are trying too!)
In today’s rapidly changing world, the internet has made us more knowledgeable and has helped to change nearly every market known to consumers. This is also true within the property market, in Britain we are obsessed with buying and selling like no other country and thankful the internet has helped to change the way we buy and sell. It may be slightly lacking behind other industries but with big businesses starting to tap into this market and understanding the power of the consumer we are starting to see a shift in the way we sell property.
In England the market has changed rapidly with launch of new online estate agents firms such as Purple Bricks, House Simple and Teplio offering property sellers fixed fees to get them onto the market. With website such as Rightmove and Zoopla dominating where we sell our houses why should we paying an estate agent 1-2% to put our property online, surely the fixed fee of £400-600 is far more reasonable.
In Scotland we are starting to see this shift, although the market is still dominated by traditional estate agency it is only a matter of time before this shift takes real hold. With only one or two real online estate agents based in Scotland more and more traditional estate agents are starting to shift towards fixed fees. It is like they have suddenly realised that they can’t charge consumers 1-2%; and the fixed fee is slowly starting to trickle down. I for one am happy about this, and want to see more of it.
I have never understood why I should be paying someone 1-2% to basically put my property on a few property websites and put up a board outside the property; okay some of the bigger estate agents will claim to have a database of potential buyers and an amazing marketing campaign which will drive more viewers but really do they and is this not just the brain child of some marketing person who wants us to part with more of our hard earned cash? With Rightmove becoming the largest go to website for property sells, what better way do you have to get your house out there.
I personally believe the market is still at the early stages of adapting in Scotland and that we will see this evolve and change even more. I suspect that it is only a matter of time before estate agents will need to fight for their survival. My belief is that there will become a time when you can list your own property of likes of Rightmove and Zoopla; I have already seen clients list their property themselves on gumtree with great results.
So the upshot from all of this, shop around don’t go with the first estate agent you find, do your research and find out actually what you are getting for your money and secondly be prepared as I suspect the market will change faster than some are expecting!